Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Where I went to school... SFU

I went to SFU for teacher training in 1995 and as part of a Masters in Education in 2003. Like everyone else (I guess) I have a love/hate relationship with Erikson's architecture -- parts of the campus are inviting or inspiring, other parts are mean and confusing. My favorite spot is a wooden "deck" outside the coffee hut by the education wing (across from some drop-in labs). There is no view off the mountain (rare at SFU), only backwards into the hallway or forwards into a vinemaple & swordfern garden (see photo below). The traffic flow of people walking in to the hall/building from outside or eating/drinking/smoking on the deck made the spot interesting and dynamic. During the summer of 1995, I lived in a tent in the bush off the end of a parking lot. I had a parking pass, so I could throw the tent in the back of my beat-up Toyota every morning and head for the shower in the Education Wing gym. I had a nice stretch of level ground, lots of berries, and was only bugged a few times by deer, coyotes, and an Anthropology class laying out a practice grid with strings and stakes.

Where I went to school... UBC

I went to UBC for about 5 years from 1989-1994. I took English, Geography, History, and Political Science courses in the Faculty of Arts and lived one year on campus, two years in Point Grey near campus, one year near Main Street, and one year in Coquitlam. Among other things, UBC is known for its trees, its size, and its well-organized student groups. I enjoyed all of these things, and spent a lot of my free time in a place called the Grad Centre, drinking bad coffee and looking out through the big windows, past doug firs and cedars, to the Pacific. After classes, my friends and I (sometimes strangers) would scheme out some adventure for the afternoon, evening, or weekend usually involving food, the woods, a fire, maybe some music. My favourite tree was (I hope it's still there) an elm on the side of the Main Library. I would have said the giant sequoia, but it was killed by landscapers (I blame Strangway). UBC was/is a beautiful campus... I wandered all over it for 4 years yet much of it remained a mystery to me. It was a like a small magic city, an experiment in social design where normal rules of society did not apply, whether it was the mist rolling up from the chuck through the alder-filled gullies, chinese food from the basement of the old Music Hall, or taking exams in the Armoury. On a visit of couple of years ago, I felt disoriented and disconnected from the memories of my university years. New buildings had sprouted up, no familiar faces, no sense that I had any business there.